GOD’S WORD: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3: 5-6
By Glenn Miller
My friend Geoff (names have been changed to protect the innocent) recently shared with me the story of how he played a trick on a certain female companion when going down a country road one afternoon. Taking in all the beauty and wonder of the wooded countryside, the young lady took notice of the miles of pine plantations and that the yearlings were all neatly growing in a row. Not familiar with forestation principles or procedures, she asked Geoff why this was. Without missing a beat, he replied, “Those are called picket pines. They grow up from pine cones like all other pines, but this particular species will migrate and line up with one another, using lunar direction, to form straight lines. It’s wood from these trees that you make fence pickets from, because they grow straighter lumber.” While his explanation seemed plausible at first, the young lady began to question the validity of his answer; probably because she picked up a thing or two from her father who has been in the building products business the past thirty years (again, not mentioning any names!). She recalled seeing one of her father’s presentations one time and that when one replants pines, they are planted in a straight row. Eventually Jeff, oops…I mean Geoff, had to come clean and they both laughed at the thought of there being such a thing.
Such is the case with spiritual discernment.
When it comes to maturing one’s faith, we all struggle with determining the will of God. And if you’ve discovered the same thing I have, there’s a lot of gray areas out there! But for every question we might have, there is no shortage of those who are more than happy to explain to you what the exact will of God is. Just as the young lady mentioned above used her logic gained from her father to discern the truth, we too must use God’s “logos” (word) given to us through His written word, experiences, and presence of the Holy Spirit to discern what is the truth.
Ray Dykes, a former pastor of mine in Oklahoma City, once gave a great answer to discernment one Sunday morning when someone asked him “what do we believe about such and such?” I’ll never forget his answer. “I know what I believe but you have to determine for yourself what you believe. What I believe is my “theology”. You can’t have mine. You have to get your own.”
That’s right, folks. Spiritual discernment is not something that you can pick up in a drive-through. It takes work. It takes reading God’s Word and letting the Spirit teach you. It takes a community of like-minded believers to help discern the truth and validate your findings. It takes trust.
And just for the record, I still believe chocolate chip cookies come from elves in a hollow tree!